Just a Click Away: Morality for Gen Z

Offering Formation of Good Conscience

Generation Z, or the Zoomers, are those who were born between 1996 – 2010. Their parents are mostly Generation X. Although many developed countries are struggling with aging populations and declining birth rates, Generation Z (hereafter: Gen Z) is now the largest generation on the planet. In 2019, a Bloomberg analysis of United Nations’ data stated that members of Gen Z accounted for 2.47 billion (32%) of the 7.7 billion inhabitants of earth. Most of the members of this generation are under our responsibility in regard to education and formation.

In this article, I will share my standpoint on how to engage Gen Z from the perspective of Christian ethics. In doing so, I will develop an analysis of the worldview of Gen Z and its impact on them; explain the massive influence from information technology, particularly the internet; expound some moral issues arising from this; and finally, argue that we still have opportunities to offer Gen Z a formation of good conscience. In my presentation, I draw heavily from my experience and knowledge as a religious formator and university professor, as well as my ministry to young people.

Classical and (Post)-Modern Worldviews        

Classical worldview

The classical worldview seen from an Aristotelian perception comprehends and explains the world in four causes: efficient, material, formal, and final. Efficient cause is the agent who makes a thing the way it is. Material cause is what is something made of. Formal cause is the blueprint behind something or the nature of something. Final cause is the purpose of something. According to this view, if we have a grasp on these causes, we comprehend things well.

Christian faith confirms this classical worldview, emphasizing the role of God as Creator in relation with creatures (material, formal, efficient causes) and provides the sense of purpose in the vision of the eternal life (final cause). A human being is a particular creature. His origin is from God and he will return back to God. His life is a story of salvation. He is created in the image of God, has fallen because of sin, is redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ, and, moved by the Holy Spirit, he journeys toward eternal life.

The lives of the saints are rich in this teleological vision as well. Teresa of Avila recommends the journey within to find God in the center of the soul. John of the Cross envisions the ascent of Mount Carmel to be united with God. Thérèse of Lisieux shares her experience in becoming love in the heart of the Church. Francis of Assisi dreams the ultimate peace and goodness found only in God and Thomas Aquinas emphasizes the importance of beatific vision.

In this worldview, the nature of a human being is dynamic and always in the process of becoming. Human life then is vibrant and full of adventure always yearning to be the better self, to the point of perfection (cf. Mat 5:48). A human being is not alone in this adventurous journey; the Holy Spirit accompanies and helps him along the way. Morality is located in this perspective and regarded as a journey of transformation aimed at union with God eternally in heaven. This is true happiness.


There is a paradigm shift in modernity that was born as a reaction of the hegemony of metaphysics. As opposed to the classical worldview, modernity turns the focus from the object to the subject, hence, cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. In this Cartesian worldview, the I gradually becomes the center of the world. In its later development, the champion of existentialism, Jean Paul Sartre, argues that existence precedes essence. In this vision, “A man is nothing but a series of enterprises, and that he is the sum, organization and aggregate of the relations that constitute such enterprises.”1 Human beings are basically nothing other than what they make of themselves. Every human being is only responsible for their actions because they choose who they are. Humans are born as “nothing” and then become who they are through their choices and actions. Sartre believes that there is no basis for making these choices; we just have to make them. Humans do not have a set purpose because they spend their lives creating who they want to be through their choices and actions.

Stepping deeper into this worldview, postmodernity, as a reaction to the failures of politics, science, and religions of the modern era, instigates opposition to foundationalism, essentialism, and realism.2 It is thus against metaphysics, objective reality, truth, and grand narratives. It deconstructs everything, just for the sake of deconstruction, hence its trademark.

Compared to the classical worldview, this paradigm seems to have lost sight of two important causes: formal and final, and only concentrates on material and efficient causes. It certainly instigates grand progress and achievements in science and technology; however, in regard to a human being, his nature has been lost and, thus, has no sense of purpose. The reality is built upon a shaky ground, fluid and ever-changing according to me as the subject. Human nature is then socially or even individually constructed. For example: the scientifically based definition of a human embryo as a human individual, hence a person, is challenged by socially constructed definitions such as: pre-embryo, activated ovum, cluster of undifferentiated cells. This leads to the de-personification of a human embryo, so that the embryo can be used as material for experiments.3

This worldview promotes individualism par excellence, because the world is rotating around me. Since it rejects the objective truth, it therefore instructs ethical relativism. Alasdair MacIntyre observes that in this worldview emotivism thrives.4 No more are rational arguments developed, and ethics is based on emotion, that is, on my likes or dislikes. Ethics then can be defined as: what I determine to be right. It is no more about doing a right and good act according to the right reason. Then, popular jargons flourish: Create what you wanna be. Do what you wanna do.

When discussing ethics, this brave new world is frenzied and full of opposing moral arguments, as MacIntyre observes: “Contemporary moral disagreements of a certain kind cannot be resolved, because no moral disagreements of that kind in any age, past, present or future, can be resolved.”5 They are endless, since there is no rational basis. Solid, rationally based moral arguments are met with emotional outcries raising the flags of discrimination, phobia, or hate speech. Clashes of individual feelings are abundant. In this worldview, truth turns into post-truth, good depends on one’s feelings, value consists of abundant competing ones, and beauty is measured according to individual taste.

This simple comparison between these two worldviews gives us a background of the condition where Gen Z was born, lives, and interacts with those of us who come from different generations. We will focus now on the phenomenon of the internet, which amplifies this worldview and leaves an enormous impact on the morality of Gen Z.

I-Gen and the Influence of Internet

Internet Generation

Internet technology started in the 1960s. In the 1980s it began to link some universities in the USA. Commercial entities of internet appeared in the late 1980s in some cities in the US and since 1995, it entered in the commercial traffics. As of January 2021, global digital population has reached 4.66 billion from 7 billion of the world population.

Gen Z is born in this internet era, and gradually, as the internet is connecting the world with a world wide web, its impact on Gen Z is also enhanced. In regard of the massive influence of internet on this generation, I preferably consider Gen Z as I-Gen. Will Palley calls them “digital in their DNA.”6

The Influence of Internet

In every single minute, the internet storms Gen Z with billions of information, movie or video shows, message exchanges, shopping and business activities.7 Most of the internet users use social media and are exceedingly active in them. They are influenced by social media and in return they are influencing social media. The greatest of these are called internet influencers. These internet celebrities, who are also known as social media influencers, are celebrities who have acquired or developed their fame through the internet. The rise of social media has helped them to increase their outreach to a global audience.

With social media, Gen Z does not necessarily need entertainment companies to support them to be a superstar. They can do everything to become one from home, from their own bedroom. One of the new Gen Z influencers on YouTube called Ninja now has 23.8 million subscribers. His videos are mostly about games. Let us compare his fame and influence with the ones of some public figures from the Church in YouTube. Bishop Robert Barron with his Word on Fire Institute has 578 thousand subscribers. Cardinal Chito Tagle with The Word Exposed has 127 thousand. Fray Abel de Jesus has 27 thousand. Ninja is still the champion! Malala Yousafzai is another Gen Z influencer. Her diary against the Taliban posted on BBC blog eventually led her to be laureated a Nobel Prize on October 10, 2014.

Those Gen Z internet influencers have inevitably affected the life of the other Gen Z among the audience. The themes of their videos are for fun, thus, harmless or even inspiring. We can, however, imagine if they post on social media morally problematic subjects, how many Gen Z would be gravely influenced? Pope Francis shows this concern: “Indeed, the digital environment is also one of loneliness, manipulation, exploitation and violence, even to the extreme case of the ‘dark web.’ Digital media can expose people to the risk of addiction, isolation and gradual loss of contact with concrete reality, blocking the development of authentic interpersonal relationships.”8

Moral Issues Amplified in the Internet

I will briefly explore some moral issues found and amplified in the internet. I focus on three issues: religious radicalism, pornography, and the post-truth era. These are all the products of the (post) modern worldview that hails individualism, emotivism, and ethical relativism.

Religious radicalism

Ethical relativism instigates the search for meaning in the polarized world. Bored with total freedom, humans now seek clear norms. Religious fanaticism appears and offers clear, sharp, and strong norms to the young seeking members of Gen Z. “Fanaticism results from being blinded by the intensity of the luminosity of one’s own religious tradition by standing too close to it, instead of seeing the whole world transfigured in its light.”9 From the blinding brilliance of fanaticism, religious radicalization is born and the best vehicle to spread it is the internet. Rand Europe finds that the internet creates more opportunities to become radicalized, acts as an echo chamber, accelerates the process of radicalization, allows radicalization to occur without physical contact, and shows a low possibility of increasing opportunities for self-radicalization.10

Religious radicalization is the cradle of terrorism, the increasing problem that the polarized world is facing. The more globalized the world is, the more polarized it is, since globalization appears as the new colonialization. Psychologist Sarlito W. Sarwono warns us that the easy target for radicalization is Gen Z between 15 to 25 years old. The targets are smart young persons and have no sign of neuroticism.11 In an interview with an ex-terrorist Ali Imron, the creator of the massive Bali bomb in 2002, he claims that he can easily radicalize young people in two hours. Fortunately, he is now the main actor of de-radicalism.

Internet Pornography

Pornography was originally defined as any work of art or literature depicting the life of prostitutes. In the later development, it becomes the “representation of sexual behavior in books, pictures, statues, motion pictures, and other media that is intended to cause sexual excitement.”12 Since porn’s purpose is to incite sexual excitement particularly to men, it easily sells its products. Hilton and Watts observe, “87% of college age men view pornography, 50% weekly and 20% daily or every other day, with 31% of women viewing as well.”13

Internet pornography is abundant and just a click away from our reach. The power of its industry guarantees its proliferation. “Globally, porn is a $97 billion industry, according to Kassia Wosick, assistant professor of sociology at New Mexico State University. At present, between $10 and $12 billion of that comes from the United States.”14

Pornography changes human behavior. It changes the brain’s function and is notoriously called the new drug. A non-profit and non-religious organization called Fight The New Drug (FTND) explains how porn corrupts our brain:

Frequent exposure to porn stimulates the reward path of our brain. It intensifies the brain to produce dopamine and oxytocin, in turn, this leads to a change in brain neurons, which causes addiction. This is how it works. Neurons that fire together, wire together. Just like other addictive substances, porn floods the brain with dopamine. That rush of brain chemicals happening repeatedly rewires the brain’s reward pathway ultimately changing the makeup of the viewer’s brain. This can result in an increased appetite for porn. The more porn a person looks at, the more severe the damage to their brain becomes and the more difficult it is to break free.15

Gary Wilson adds that porn is always interesting to young men not only because of its arousal of sexual pleasure, but because of its unending novelty.16 This is because of the hunting and promiscuous tendency in men, technically called the Coolidge effect. Most boys seek pornography by the age of ten, driven by puberty that makes them fascinated by sex. The industrial or personal (quasi) porn in the internet, such as OnlyFans and other hook-up apps, storms their brains with millions of information and influences the formation of their sexual identity. Various personal views and experiences regarding these phenomena are also abundant in social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook). Porn inflicts disruption on sexual development of children and adolescents, even destroying their lives if child pornography is involved. It also degrades the value of the human body and its sexuality, degrades the value of women merely into sexual objects, commercializes and barbarizes human sexuality.

Pornography is highly related to sex trafficking as well. This conversation is found in the documentary film Brain Heart World by FTND team: “Human trafficking only perpetuates because there is a customer base,” Det. Amber Campbell said. “If we had no customers, if we had no demand, we would have no trafficking. It’s simple economics.” This shows that the problems of pornography become more complicated in this pornified world. We cannot deny their influence on the developing members of Gen Z, particularly in shaping their sexual identity, which now is perceived as fluid and ever-changing.

Truth and Post-Truth

Abundant opposing opinions and voices amplified on the internet blur the truth and fertilize the soil where the post-truth grows. Twitter, for example, entertains this by training young people to only express their feelings without an attitude to dig deeper, seeking the truth.

The Oxford Dictionaries define “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Post-truth is successfully sold in the political world.

Aristotle defines truth as follows: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.”17  We sometimes make mistakes and say things that are untrue without intending to do so. However, there is intentional ignorance when we do not really know if something is true, but we forward it anyway to others, without bothering to take the time to find out if our information is correct. The ones who spread a falsehood seem at least partially responsible for any ignorance born from their sluggishness to seek the truth. Lee McIntyre gives details on the next level of falsehood: “Next comes lying, when we tell a falsehood with intent to deceive. This is an important milestone, for we have here crossed over into attempting to deceive another person, even though we know that what we are saying is untrue.”18

Things are true regardless of how we feel about them, but we often entertain our feelings rather than our reason. Emotivism speaks loudly here. McIntyre explicates that this occurs when we are threatened by an inconvenient fact, seeking to assert something that is more important to us than the truth itself, and trying to compel someone to believe in something whether there is good evidence for it or not.19

The post-truth era is born from a lethargy to strive to seek truth. This vice is promoted and amplified especially with social media. There information is spread in fragmentation, incredibly short, superficial and not verified. This mentality shapes Gen Z to not have patience even to read a paragraph but always be ready to make many conclusions which are mostly latius hos.

How to approach, help & empower Gen Z in this Internet Age

Being influencers

Gen Z spend much of their time in the virtual world. To ride the wave of this age, we need to be there and be good influencers. Pope Francis advises, “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the ‘smell of the sheep’ and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.”20 Barron, Tagle, Abel, and some others have tried their best by “being there and being influencers.”

“Being there” also corresponds to Pope Francis’s spirit of synodía, as he writes, “Jesus was there, mingling with the others, joking with other young people, listening to the adults tell stories and sharing the joys and sorrows of the group. Indeed, the Greek word that Luke uses to describe the group — synodía — clearly evokes a larger ‘community on a journey’ of which the Holy Family is a part. Thanks to the trust of his parents, Jesus can move freely and learn to journey with others.”21 The language employed in “being there” is “the language of closeness, the language of generous, relational and existential love that touches the heart, impacts life, and awakens hope and desires.”22

We could offer to Gen Z many good choices by being creatively present in the internet, bringing the Good News. Thus, we offer better alternatives than the attractive moral dangers found on the internet as mentioned above.

Forming good conscience

We can offer to Gen Z a formation of good conscience, particularly to those who are entrusted to our care. Forming a good conscience is also one of the serious responsibilities of the formators or educators, because one of the required characters of leadership is having a good conscience.

Conscience enjoins the human person at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil.23 It is the human power to reason consisting of two dimensions, synderesis (mystical) and syneidesis (practical). In the discourse of moral conscience, synderesis is frequently forgotten and people emphasize heavily on the role of syneidesis, the practical reason that renders good judgement. Our practical reason can render good judgment only because it is enlightened by synderesis, that is, “the primordial conscience, a natural, innate stable disposition or habit of the human mind.”24 This first dimension of conscience maintains in us the attraction to the good and to God as the Supreme Good. Therefore, it is “a teleological principal interior to practical reason itself.”25 Based on this attraction to the Supreme Good, the practical reason, hence conscience, makes a wise judgement which good act should be done and assumes responsibility for it. In other words, the mystical life has its huge influence in the practical life. There is no separation between these two.

Formation of conscience is integrated within the formation of a person’s virtue. Indeed, Thomas Aquinas considers conscience in terms of virtue, namely, the virtue of prudence. Prudence reminds us of Solomon with his renowned wisdom in handling concrete complicated cases (cf. 1 Kings 3:16–28) and of Paul who attributes it to the gift of discernment of spirits (cf. 1 Cor 12:10). Among the moral virtues, prudence is preeminent, because it holds the other virtues in check. This virtue has also a theological dimension because it directs man to the good and the supreme good, God himself, and this perspective on the ultimate good is necessary because the concrete world is filled with contingency.26 In this way, prudence relates harmoniously with synderesis. “Synderesis moves prudence, just as the understanding of principles moves science,” explains Aquinas.27 Furthermore, prudence guides the syneidesis in applying right reason into concrete action. Thus prudence intertwines these two dimensions of conscience harmoniously and by doing so, it gives deeper insight to conscience.

Moral reasoning assumes the knowledge of the sources of morality. They are the factors, elements, or sources that determine an action as good or bad. Those are: the object chosen, the end in view or the intention, and the circumstances of the action. Intentions determine what object or means that we choose, and it influences the whole morality of an act. “The intention resides in the acting subject. Because it lies at the voluntary source of an action and determines it by its end, intention is an element essential to the moral evaluation of an action.”28 Conscience is located in the intention of the acting person. Conscience directs the intention to intend well and choose the good act. Therefore, the role of good conscience is essential in moral life.

Conscience is not only concerned with every single act, but it can direct our whole purpose in life to God. It assumes the awareness of the ever-present God in us, as a good friend who enjoys the beauty of our soul.29 This indwelling of God in us in his Holy Spirit transforms us gradually to become more like God to the point of perfection of His image in us (cf. Matt. 5:48).

The reason why we should offer formation of good conscience to Gen Z is because they need to have the true and eternal friend: Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 15:15). Conscience is the guarantee of the ever-presence of God within. Parents, teachers and formators certainly can help support and train them well to develop a good conscience. Even though their role is important, it is still limited, since they cannot always be there, be eternal and ubiquitous friends, and some might not be the true ones. Therefore, we need to introduce and entrust them to Jesus.

Offering to Gen Z a formation of good conscience means presenting to them that morality is the way of happiness, the way that Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7), precisely in the Beatitudes (Matt 5:1–12). This is the Magna Carta of Christian life. Happiness offered here, however, is not equal to pleasure, but the true happiness found only in God. This happiness challenges Gen Z to get out from their egocentrism, be transformed and grow. Young St. Augustine, who experienced ups and downs seeking this true happiness, wrote in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” This challenge to grow in the true happiness is expressed well in the conversation between Jesus and the Gen Z of his time, a rich young man (Matt 19:16-26). To these verses Pope Francis comments, “A young man . . . approaches Jesus and asks if there is more that he can do; in this, he demonstrates that youthful openness of spirit which seeks new horizons and great challenges. Yet his spirit was not really that young, for he had already become attached to riches and comforts . . . He had given up his youth.”30

Mystagogical Approach

To offer formation of good conscience to Gen Z, we need then to develop mystagogical formation. Etymologically, mystagogue means “one who initiates another into a mystery” or “one who understands or teaches mystical doctrines.” Thus, mystagogical approach is an approach which initiates another into a mystery, so that one can enter and experience the mystery, and finally one can teach and share this mystery to others. For this we need gurus.

Reviving the Gurus

Good conscience can only be trained by conscientious persons. Paul VI once said, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”31 Therefore, there is a need to revive the gurus. This word literally means: the heavy, worthy, authoritative one. But what is the feature of a guru? Kees Waaijman writes, “The real guru has personal authority, not something inherited or the possession of the privileged caste, but a clear indication that this man has himself experienced the Divine. He knows. He has entered the presence of God.”32 A guru speaks from his own experience.

Jesus is the Guru. His teaching is so authoritative (Mk 1:22) because he teaches with his deeds: becoming the friend of sinners and outcasts and giving his life on the cross for all. Jesus teaches with parables, performs miracles and healing, and is present in so many meals (Lk 15­–16, 8:22–39, Jn 6:1–15). He also teaches prayer by praying the whole night (Lk 5:16).

For us, in order to be a guru, however, we should first become a disciple. It is best summed up: in obsequio Iesu Christi, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. This presupposes ups and downs, successes and failures, and indispensable help from the Holy Spirit. This formative process is a lifelong process. It includes growth to human and spiritual maturity which progresses along with the unfolding of the lives of those who, having encountered Christ, answer his call and follow him, allowing themselves to be grasped and transformed by his love.

This encourages us to engage Gen Z. We would not appear as a guru who knows all, but one who is willing to be a friend in the synodia, a journey together toward God. The sharing and exchanging of experience is the trademark in this engagement. Saverio Canistrà writes, ”What do older members have the duty to pass on to the younger generation? We can find a way out of the difficulty by saying that we have first of all the duty of offering an example of life. . . . In this regard, I recall how of the four admonitions that Teresa left to her sisters and brothers, the last of the four says this: Let them teach us more by their works than by their words.”33


The (post) modern worldview surrounds Gen Z and the information technology with its various moral issues, influencing them immensely. They need our inspiring presence bringing Christ’s Good News into their digital world to offer them better alternatives. Forming Gen Z to acquire good conscience would make them realize that the indwelling God is their eternal friend as they wade through the violent waves of life. In doing so, we need the mystagogical approach in their formation and the revival of gurus. Hopefully with our Mary, our beloved Mother, who as a teenager accepted the demanding will of God to save the world, they eventually can sing along:

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;                   

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,                     

and holy is his name.                               

His mercy is for those who fear him                          

from generation to generation.                           

(Lk 1:48–50)

  1. Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism Is a Humanism, trans. Carol Macomber (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2007), 38.
  2. See “Postmodern,” in Robert Audi, ed., The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
  3. See Benny Phang, Seeing Him, Are We Moved with Compassion?: Scientific, Ethical and Theological Inquiry into the Moral Status of the Early Human Embryo (Rome: Edizioni Carmelitane, 2019).
  4. Cf. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2007), 11–12.
  5. MacIntyre, After Virtue, 11.
  6. See Will Palley, Gen Z: Digital in their DNA, icabrasil.org/2016/files/557-corporateTwo/downloads/F_INTERNAL_Gen_Z_0418122.pdf, accessed February 3, 2022.
  7. See Claire Jenik, “A Minute on the Internet in 2021,” Statistica.com, July 30, 2021; www.statista.com/chart/25443/estimated-amount-of-data-created-on-the-internet-in-one-minute/, accessed February 25, 2022.
  8. Christus Vivit, 88.
  9. Arvind Sharma, “The Difference between Faith and Fanaticism,” The Daily Guardian, April 20 2021; thedailyguardian.com/the-difference-between-faith-and-fanaticism/, accessed March 20, 2022.
  10. Ines von Behr, Anaïs Reding, Charlie Edwards, Luke Gribbon, “Radicalisation in the Digital Era: The See of the Internet in 15 Cases of Terrorism and Extremism,” www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/ pubs/research_reports/RR400/RR453/RAND_RR453.pdf, accessed December 2, 2021.
  11. Cf. Sarlito W. Sarwono, Terorisme di Indonesia dalam Tinjauan Psikologi (Tangerang, Alvabet: 2012), 45–71.
  12. “Pornography,” John Philip Jenkins, accessed April 26, 2022, www.britannica.com/topic/pornography.
  13. Donald L. Hilton Jr. and Clark Watts, “Pornography Addiction: Neuroscience Perspective,” Surgical Neurology International 2 (2011): 19.
  14. “Porn Business Optimistic Despite Piracy, Condom Battles,” Chris Morris, accessed January 30, 2022, www.cnbc.com/2015/01/14/porn-business-optimistic-despite-piracy-condom-battles.html.
  15. Fight The New Drug, “How Porn Can Affect the Brain Like a Drug,” accessed March 2, 2022, https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-can-affect-the-brain-like-a-drug/.
  16. See The Great Porn Experiment, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU, accessed March 2, 2022.
  17. Lee McIntyre, Post-Truth (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018), 7.
  18. McIntyre, Post-Truth, 7–8.
  19. Cf. McIntyre, Post-Truth, 12–13.
  20. Evangelii Gaudium, 24.
  21. Christus Vivit, 29.
  22. Christus Vivit, 211.
  23. Cf. CCC, 1777.
  24. Reinhard Hütter, Bound for Beatitude: A Thomistic Study in Eschatology and Ethics (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2019), 160.
  25. Hütter, Bound for Beatitude, 162.
  26. Cf. Brian Davies, Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae: A Guide and Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 247. See also James Keenan, “The Virtue of Prudence (IIa IIae, qq. 47–56),” in The Ethics of Aquinas, ed. Stephen J. Pope (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002), 263.
  27. ST II–II, q. 47, art. 6, ad. 3.
  28. CCC, 1751.
  29. Cf. St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, I 1, 1.
  30. Christus Vivit, 18.
  31. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41.
  32. Kees Waaijman, Spirituality: Forms, Foundations, Methods (Leuven: Peters Publishers, 2002), 875.
  33. Saverio Canistrà, La Trasmissione del Carisma, a talk given on September 24, 2019 at the General Chapter of the Carmelite Order.
Fr. Benny Phang Khong Wing, O.Carm. About Fr. Benny Phang Khong Wing, O.Carm.

Benny Phang Khong Wing, O.Carm., is a priest of the Carmelite Order. He holds a licentiate degree in moral theology from The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., and a doctorate in the same field from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas - Angelicum in Rome. He has taught moral theology in STFT Widya Sasana, Indonesia and has lectured extensively. He is the author of many publications, most recently Seeing Him, Are We Moved with Compassion?: A Scientific, Ethical and Theological Inquiry into the Moral Status of the Early Human Embryo (Edizioni Carmelitane, 2019), If You Knew the Gift of God: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christian Morality (Karmelindo, 2020). He was the General Councillor for Asia, Oceania and Australia and currently he is the Vice Prior General, as well as being responsible for Formation in the Carmelite Order.


  1. Avatar P Thomas McGuire says:


    This article was a little heavy, but profound in the conclusion. You start with the Aristotle and discuss Thomas Aquinas. I wonder if your staring point was the Chinese sages. What would be the conclusion? My experience suggests Chinese wisdom has a contemplative cultural characteristic not as present in the Western cultural. Lately, I have paid more attention to contemporary global artists. There seems to be in them a contemplative kind of searching that is an opening to the WAY of Jesus. Just a thought after reading your excellent article.

    • Avatar Benny Phang says:

      Thomas, thank you for your compliments. I cannot disagree, it would be a contribution from the East. I have some familiarity with Zen Buddhism and the Indian epics, such as Mahabharata, Bhagawat Gita. In this article I’m addressing international audience who somewhat familiar with some basic viewpoints of Aristotle and Aquinas. Indeed, Asian view is very contemplative and FABC mentioned this as the first way to evangelize the Asian people. In “Ecclesia in Asia” JP II wrote, “In “the fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), he sent his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ the Saviour, who took flesh as an Asian!”

  2. Avatar Anita Lie says:

    An excellent and relevant piece, Fr. Benny. While the influence of the internet is clutching its users more tightly for its good as well as destructive uses, families are breaking apart leaving lonely souls of the Gen Z thirst for happiness and falsely seek for contentment in those 3 moral issues you mention. The Church is yet to find more relevant ways of reviving the gurus that resonate with the Gen Z. Other than those Church YouTubers, personae like Beato Carlo Acutis are badly needed as models for the young who remain true to their conscience and yet still do not lose their sense of being young.

    • Avatar Benny Phang says:

      Prof. Anita, thank you for your compliments. Yes, I should have mentioned Carlo Acutis for his passion to the Holy Eucharist and how he employed internet to share his passion.